Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Cloth rolls in Rome

Synaesthesia: When coloured sounds taste sweet:
Of the different types of synaesthesia, most have colour as the concurrent perception, with concurrent perceptions of smell or taste being rare. Here we describe the case of a musician who experiences different tastes in response to hearing different musical tone intervals, and who makes use of her synaesthetic sensations in the complex task of tone-interval identification.
The brain is odd. I mean, I have nothing, absolutely nothing, to add to this. It's just bad ass. The woman sees the colors of the music being played, tastes the intervals between notes, and uses it to enhance her performances. How cool. How mind-numbingly cool.

Someone buy me a subscription to Nature. How stupid is it to let me peek at the abstract, and not give me whatever cool figures they must have.

Scientific data wants to be free!

There's been some conversation over why newspapers hide their archives. The solution some recommend is making people pay for early access, rather than archival access. Then, if you want to be up on events, you pay and get access to today's paper online. If you don't care, you access fishwrap online, and find out about events after you heard it on the radio or on TV.
I can't decide which model I prefer for web access to scientific papers. Part of me wants them to leave them open for the first week or month, to let me snag PDFs of good stuff, and then make me subscribe to get access to the archives. The other part of me wants the opposite.

Through JSTOR, it's possible to access old articles in select journals. That's cool, though you need an institutional subscription. I think that the argument would be that most people in the public want access to older articles for historical reasons. Science and Nature articles are old after a month or two. Journal of Mammalogy have a longer shelf life. But no one will pay to get access to a 5 year old article. It's a waste. So open the archives to the public, let them read old papers, and do cool things with them. Release them under a Creative Commons license, so people can republish them non-commercially with attribution.

It would cost nothing, since people who need it for their research have it already. If particular papers are still generating revenue streams, hold onto them for ten years, we'll understand. But when I'm working from home, I should still be able to get 90% of the papers I need to write an introduction, or a methods section, without using my university subscriptions.

It's the future, and the first publisher to make that easy will win big. As it is, the hassle of getting online access to Ecology makes me read it less than I should. Oikos gets my attention because I can read it online. Blackwell journals are easy, and Allen Press is getting there. Kluwer is trying, but I don't think it's quite as nice.

Also, put an RSS feed of each journal up, and make a feed of papers that will be published in the next issue as they are set for type. It would be easy, and people would pay for access to that.

Then I'd know what it's like to see and taste a sound.

Sound and Vision” by David Bowie from the album Low (1977, 3:03).

Update: Minor edits.